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The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today
that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, missing in action from the Korean War, have been
identified and will be returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
Army Sgt. Chester L. Williams, 32, Conneaut Lake, Pa., will be buried Sept. 30, in
Meadville, Pa. In late November 1950, Williams and elements of the 31st Regimental Combat
Team, known as “Task Force Faith,” were advancing along the eastern banks of the Chosin
Reservoir, in North Korea. After coming under attack, they began a fighting withdrawal to
positions near Hagaru-ri, south of the reservoir. During this withdrawal Williams went missing.
In 1953, returning Americans who had been held as prisoners of war reported that
Williams had been captured by Chinese forces and died shortly thereafter as a result of exposure
to the elements.
Between 1991 and 1994, North Korea gave the United States 208 boxes of remains
believed to contain the remains of 200-400 U.S. service members. North Korean documents,
turned over with some of the boxes, indicated that some of the human remains were recovered
from the area where Williams was last seen.
In the identification of the remains, scientists from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting
Command (JPAC) and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory (AFDIL) used
circumstantial evidence and forensic identification tools, such as radiograph, dental records and
mitochondrial DNA–which matched Williams’ nephew and grand nephew.
Using modern technology, identifications continue to be made from remains that were
previously turned over by North Korean officials. Today, more than 7,900 Americans remain
unaccounted for from the Korean War.
For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for missing
Americans, visit the DPMO website at http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo or call (703) 699-1169.